The wild success of the ABC hit Shark Tank has spawned numerous knock-off business reality shows. Each has a unique twist such focusing on niches like restaurants or interior design. A new four-episode, hour-long series debuting on CNBC Monday is pretty much what it would look like if Shark Tank and Survivor — both Mark Burnett productions — had a child.
Like Shark Tank, Adventure Capitalists features a panel of epically-wealthy moguls meeting with entrepreneurs seeking investments. But Adventure Capitalists, produced by 3 Ball Entertainment in Manhattan Beach, Calif., only showcases entrepreneurs peddling innovative outdoor recreation products.
“Outdoor enthusiasts tend to be intrepid personalities. Their ambition rarely stops when a particular trip or adventure is over,” said DJ Nurre, executive vice president of programming and development at 3 Ball Entertainment. “The best products and ideas originate from these individuals who are living the lifestyle, and therefore, are first to see the need and opportunity for a new product.”
The Biggest Difference From Shark Tank
Unlike Shark Tank, which is taped in a glamorous studio on a Sony (SNE) lot in Culver City, Calif., in Adventure Capitalists the investors partake in extreme expeditions a la Survivor to test drive both the products and the entrepreneurs. (For those not familiar with the franchise, Survivor dropped contestants into the wilderness, split them into competing tribes and progressively eliminated individuals until there was a lone “survivor.”)
“What makes our series unique is the extensive field testing our investors put each product through,” said DJ Nurre, executive vice president of programming and development at 3 Ball Entertainment. The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based outfit produces the show. “OnShark Tank, inventor and entrepreneur Lori Greiner was able to see the potential of the cell phone catching product Drop Stop in a matter of seconds from the comfort of a Hollywood sound stage.
“But when the product is a honeycomb-reinforced tent that claims to setup within seconds, yet still withstand the violent winds on Mount Everest, you have to get out in the field to assess the validity of the claims.”
The show travels to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mojave Desert and the Bahamas to take a whack at a collapsible toilet for camping, a three-wheel all-terrain electric bike and an acoustic shark repellent.
“This show touches on the very American desire to be your own boss and live life like Walter Mitty,” said Nurre. “Who doesn’t love really good gear? Over the years I’ve worked on a number of survival/adventure shows and no matter how unpleasant the region or climate we are headed into, the entire crew gets pumped when it comes time to hit Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) or Adventure 16 to gear up.
“There’s something about looking at all that Gore-Tex, Neoprene and Paracord that sets your mind racing because the right gear opens up exciting new aspects of the outdoors you might not otherwise be able to experience – not comfortably anyway.”
The casting team at 3 Ball Entertainment started meeting with industry insiders and sniffing around trade shows a year in advance in hopes of finding a few gems to feature. The producers had to vet numerous products themselves to see if they were ready for primetime.
“At one point, our hallways were filled with tents, rock-climbing gear and every variation of a flashlight you could dream of,” said Nurre. “It looked like we were preparing for an Outward Bound trip. Before a product could even be considered for the show, it went through rigorous investigation and testing.
“One of our casting team was even stuck out at sea for several hours when the motor on the product he was testing fizzled out. Needless to say, that product never made it on the show.”
Weekend Warrior Venture Capitalists
Like the panel of investors on Shark Tank, the weekend-warrior venture capitalists on the Adventure Capitalists are wildly successful entrepreneurs who started companies from the ground up. But they put the Sharks to shame when it comes to athletics.
“We have the best panel of investors on TV, hands down. In addition to the deep pockets, experience and insight a show like this demands, they are also infinitely watchable and have a chemistry that is second to none,” said Nurre. “Our investors include Craig Cooper, who co-founded Boost Mobile USA, led a multi-billion-dollar energy company in Australia (NRG Asia-Pacific), and is an avid surfer, skier, mountain biker and pilot, among many other things.
“Dhani Jones, a former NFL linebacker who, after retiring from the NFL, launched philanthropic endeavor BowTie Cause and is a partner at two major ad agencies – Proclamation in Cincinnati and VMG-Creative in New York. Jeremy Bloom is also a former NFL player in addition to being an accomplished Olympian in skiing and co-founder of the breakout software company Integrate. Jeremy was included in Forbes’ 30 Most Influential People in Technology Under 30.”
The show producers are developing a website,Adventurecapitalists.com, through which entrepreneurs can apply to be on the show.
“For them (Craig, Jeremy and Dhani) to cut a check, they need to see passion, focus and determination in the entrepreneur, and that’s what we look for in the casting process, as well,” said Nurre.
Tune in Monday, August 22, at 10 pm et to see whether the investors give the entrepreneurs the full amount they’re seeking to “start, grow or save their businesses.”
“(The show) has a little something for everyone – the REI shopper, the investing enthusiast or even just someone who wants to live vicariously as our team tests out innovative products in breathtakingly beautiful locations,” said Nurre. “Also, it’s a show that appeals to both male and female viewers.
“Some of the best products this season came from female entrepreneurs, who recognized that there is a huge opportunity for products specifically designed to fit and appeal to the female outdoor enthusiast.”
Read the full article here.